March 13, 2013

Three Homers Including First Career Shots for Stokes and Hines Lift Bulldogs Past Akron

Charleston, S.C. – Johnathan Stokes knocked out a career-high four hits and connected for his first career home run, helping The Citadel complete a two-game sweep of Akron with a 9-3 victory Wednesday at Riley Park.

The Bulldogs (12-6) won for the seventh time in their past eight games, the best stretch since winning 13 in a row near the end of the 2010 season. The Citadel is also six games over .500 for the first time since wrapping up that campaign with a record of 43-22.

Akron dropped to 1-13 on the season with all 14 games coming on the road.

Bret Hines (pictured) also went deep for the first time in his brief collegiate career, and Bo Thompson hit his sixth of the year and fourth in the past five games. The Citadel had 15 hits, one shy of its season high, and has recorded 11 hits in a game in nine of 18 contests so far this season.

The three home runs give The Citadel 16 on the season, only three shy of the total from the entire 2012 campaign. Thompson matched the total that Justin Mackert had when he paced the Bulldogs in that category a year ago.

Stokes went 7-for-9 with five RBI against Akron and raised his average from .262 entering the series to .329. The sophomore shortstop batted just .212 as a freshman in 2012.

Austin Livingston, the third of five Bulldog pitchers in the game, worked two innings of two-hit shutout ball with a pair of strikeouts and earned the victory to improve to 2-0. Skylar Hunter came in with one on and one out in the eighth and didn't allow a hit the rest of the way to pick up his fourth save of the season.

Calvin Orth doubled in a run in the second and Thompson had an RBI single in the third, but The Citadel still found itself down 3-2 after the Zip's Matt LaRocca homered off Kevin Connell to lead off the fourth.

That changed in the home half of the fifth when Thompson and Stokes blasted solo shots off Akron starter Michael Steensen. The Bulldogs added another run in the frame on an RBI single by Hughston Armstrong, who extended his hitting streak to a career-long seven games and is 15-for-24 (.625) over that span.

Stokes lined a single to center to score Drew DeKerlegand in the sixth. Hines, a defensive replacement in the seventh and appearing in just the sixth game of his freshman season, drove one inside the foul pole in left for a three-run shot in the eighth to put the finishing touches on the win.

The Citadel returns to Southern Conference play this weekend with a trip to Spartanburg to face Wofford. The first game of the series is Friday at 6 p.m. The Bulldogs are 2-1 in the SoCon after taking two of three from defending conference tournament champion Samford last weekend at Riley Park.

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